The trucking industry operates in an environment of rapid change but one thing remains constant: customer communication is and will always be a vital component to exceptional service.Continual dialogu...
November 1, 2001
Priscilla Berenson, director of marketing, Xpedite
The trucking industry operates in an environment of rapid change but one thing remains constant: customer communication is and will always be a vital component to exceptional service.
Continual dialogue with freight forwarders and your customers is key to accurately anticipating customers’ demands. An inability to get the message out fast enough to freight forwarders and customers regarding capacity flows, available space and rates is detrimental to any transportation provider.
Carriers of all sizes trying to stay one step ahead of their competitors without straining their budgets, are finding that outsourcing their electronic messaging needs for the delivery of shipping schedules, rates, new route promotions or shipping confirmations via e-mail and fax is an attractive alternative to maintaining an internal infrastructure.
Through outsourcing, carriers have immediate access to high-volume and secure document distribution capabilities, without stretching their technological resources. Additionally, costs are cut significantly, as there is no need to purchase any extra communications equipment or employ additional staff to address the large volume of important, time-sensitive document deliveries characteristic of the transportation industry.
How does outsourcing work? Service providers can offer sophisticated and highly secure networks to deliver or broadcast thousands of documents simultaneously to multiple parties via fax or e-mail. They also help customers create targeted mailing lists that can be stored with the service provider. In order to distribute a document to a particular group(s) of recipients, a customer simply sends the message or attached document to the service provider via fax or e-mail, indicating the intended list(s) for dissemination.
Upon completion of the job, most providers will send confirmation reports to their customer, providing them with an audit trail that lists the date and time of delivery of each document, including any undeliverables. They will also inform the client as to why certain information was non-deliverable, i.e., whether it was a bad address, a full mailbox as with e-mail, or some other problem. Additionally, most leading service providers only charge customers for successful deliveries and require no contracts or set-up fees.
A number of different communication solutions are provided by outsourced service providers – combining fax technology, e-mail and the Internet.
One of the most popular applications that marketing professionals use when faxing to highly targeted audiences is “fax merge”, which personalizes each document for additional impact. It eliminates the distribution of generic documents that some recipients might discard because they appear like “form” literature. Fax merging delivers documents customized with the recipient’s name, address, or any other information provided from a database. This tool would be very useful when delivering customers a discount on available trailer space that must be sold. The individualized document provides each customer with the impression that they are a highly valued client and are being offered a special rate beyond what others are receiving.
With e-mail, some leading service providers offer extensive customization capabilities, whereby customers can merge variable fields of information (i.e., name, company, etc.) from a distribution list into the text of an e-mail. This allows a carrier to send a personalized confirmation document or rate sheet to all of its customers, making the confirmation far more effective and more customer relations focused than a generic document.
A few leading service providers have recently upped the stakes by offering customers the ability to know who has received the document, and who has read the information. Now, customers can distribute e-mails that contain a short text message as to the context of the e-mail, and with unique links to other documents. These unique links, or URL’s, are generated by the service provider. If the intended recipient is interested in the message or subject, he or she can simply click on the URLs and retrieve the documents. By doing so, the service provider is able to record that action and then report it back to the customer.
In addition, unique URLs can be generated that link to a customer’s Website. When a recipient clicks on the URL, the service provider can track visits to any Website.
Leading outsourced service providers can not only assist with the distribution of information, but can also help with the retrieval and feedback of various data exchanges. In addition to providing detailed reports, some new features include the ability to handle the time consuming aspect of managing large quantities of replies to various documents, such as marketing promotions or event invitations. If so desired, all replies can be automatically routed to the service provider so as not to ‘clog’ a company’s fax machine or server, or overwhelm any single mailbox. Legitimate replies are then forwarded to the customer. Leading service providers also handle all “remove from list” requests, which automatically block the recipient’s address from being used again on the applicable list.
Carriers can utilize the capabilities of outsourced service providers for their everyday communication and marketing needs. In the age of advanced technology, the ability to quickly disseminate information to a wide group of recipients, individually customize large target lists, distribute information via various methods, and provide easy and quick means for recipients to respond, will distinguish leading companies from their competitors.
Xpedite (www.xpedite.com) provides multimedia messaging, processing more than eight million messages every day to all types of electronic addresses.